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Behind the Heart with Chiadi Ndu: But I Should Have Known!



Chiadi NduI watched her as she interviewed her prospective nanny. She insisted that she had to wear a uniform each morning she reported to work. The prospective Nanny’s body language said it all for me. I saw her shoulder subtly contract in defiance and her brow furrow as she said in a strong but quiet voice “Is it every day, Ma?” In no uncertain terms my friend told her that she had to wear the uniform every time she was in her home. I knew instinctively that that relationship would not work. In that brief encounter, I saw a little ‘red flag’ being hoisted. ‘Nanny’ was bound to resent a uniform-wearing, regimented lifestyle while ‘Madam’ was not available for any compromise on dress code. ‘To wear or not to wear’ was going to provoke very angry and hostile reactions from both sides.

In most relationships ‘red flags’ are pretty obvious. I had to learn very early in life to take off my rose-tinted shades and look at people as objectively as possible before letting them into my life. I have not always succeeded but I know the signs are usually obvious. For instance, people that get angry and ‘lose it,’ cussing out fellow drivers on the road while horning fiercely and using swear words always put me on the alert. I can’t stop wondering how they would react when I make them cross. Also, listening to people speak carelessly about their ‘friends’ makes me wonder how I would be talked about if and when I become their friends too. For me, that is usually a bright sign screaming, “I am a snitch and I cannot be trusted…”

I have watched young and precious relationships hit the rock many times. Upon intervention, I saw that all the symptoms were obvious from the very beginning. They were either ignored, idealized or glamorized. I felt shattered as I watched my much younger friend sob her heart out when she discovered that her husband (of less than one year) was having an affair.

She said over and over again “…but I should have known …” In between her sobs, she narrated how her husband had made it clear from the very beginning that he was not going to be accountable to her or anyone else. She recounted an incident that occurred while they were still dating. She called him late one evening and he didn’t seem very keen on talking with her. She wondered why he was in such a hurry to get off the phone and she asked him repeatedly who he was with and where he was at. He didn’t answer before the line went off. She was shocked when he sent her a message reading “Back off! I am not obligated to give you an account of my life… it is my life. I live it how it pleases me.” Though she was troubled by the answer, she chose to ignore it, concluding that most men would not want to be answerable to their partners. Unfortunately she didn’t pay attention to the consequences of non-accountability in a committed relationship. Those were dazzling red neon lights blazing… CAUTION!

Though no one is perfect, every adult ought to have a clear idea of the things they can put up with or at the very least the things they cannot put up with. These should form boundaries that their partners must make a deliberate effort not to cross.

Pat Mumby PhD, Professor and Co-Director of the Loyola Sexual Wellness Clinic could not have put it better when he wrote: “Falling in love causes our body to release a flood of feel-good chemicals that trigger specific physical reactions… The phrase ‘love is blind’ is a valid notion because we tend to idealise our partner and see only things that we want to see in the early stages of the relationship….

This internal elixir of ‘love’ chemicals (dopamine and adrenaline) create the feelings of euphoria, racing hearts, sweaty palms and the entire paraphernalia of falling in love. These chemicals can make people see only what they want to see even when all the other signs are in place and very visible.

As you decide to enter that relationship please remove those rose tinted shades and tone down those ‘love’ chemicals- the signs are usually there and the voice inside your head may be saying CAUTION!

*All characters and other entities appearing in this article are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, dead or alive, or other real-life entities, past or present, is purely coincidental.

CHIADI NDU was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1987 but has since obtained a Masters Degree in Counselling Psychology. A Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, she runs BTH Integrated Wellness and Therapy. Email: [email protected] BTH provides premium professional counselling services with experts who understand how the mind works; offering a confidential and safe environment where our clients can work on any stressful, traumatic or simply uncomfortable issues they may be facing- ANXIETY, GRIEF, FEAR, TRAUMA, LOSS, FINANCES OR HEALTH  CHALLENGES. Website:


  1. "changing moniker"

    May 10, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    hmmmn……but i should have known my gateman was a thief….although he gave me no indications….now i’m laptop less…..

  2. Bodunade

    May 10, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    When I met the ex, I noticed she had a temper and didn’t take nonsense, instead of being sensible and jogging on I decided to take up the challenge, the Lion had to be tamed. There’s the satisfaction squaring up to ‘damaged’ or obnoxious people brings. It’s usually cute in the beginning. You tell yourself despite the red flag that Love means ‘repairing’ or sticking to the person because nobody is perfect *Lolest*. Us against the world mentality is sweet o. After a few years, you know how the story usually ends.
    I have had my share of red flags, all I want is white, stories of partners killing themselves up and down, nobody becomes a psycho overnight.
    Protect yourself and your family.
    Shine your eyes.

  3. Tosin

    May 10, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    super hot!

    i don’t really wanna be accountable to nobady. sometimes people don’t believe or understand me even after i spell that out. or like, i’ll find out that the person has somehow failed to notice that i am not a cooking-cleaning potential wifey, and i’m like ah ahn, but where did you put your ears, eyes, and sense since?

    same with jobs, i can’t really job on a schedule. i’ll work my ass off to do necessary / essential / important things, but i can’t commute, sit in a chair staring at the wall, or do the same thing more than a few times. i can’t do dumb or futile things – automate, automate, … i hate bras. clothes. shoes. i love them in pictures but hate wearing them and five days a week is – kuku imprison me. 🙂
    Announcement: *please epp me ooo, i’m finding work. *

    back to “relationships” and my people hustling to marry: there are some crazy people out there (well, we are all crazy, in different ways) and i’m laughing thinking somebody is going to marry this one and lol it’s gonna be disastrous when they get home and find out what’s in their package… then you now find out that the one you were pitying is even crazier lol. overtake come overtake overtake. maga maga the maga.

    You get your own wahala / I get my own for body – Falz (Ello Bae)
    iz in goggu :

    • Mimi

      May 11, 2016 at 1:22 am

      You sound like me in the “working” department…. i went on a years placement/internship in the middle of my university course, within 2 months i had one of those crisis that 40 years olds have when they realised they may have wasted 20 years of their life in a job they don’t like.

      it was a 9-5 job, sitting at a desk at my own computer, it was open space, so no cubicles. i started coming to work and watching the clock till it was lunch, then i would eat and watch the clock till it was 5, then i would go home and be annoyed/irritated.dreading that i had to go to wake up at 6.30am the next day and go to work again, then i would wait for friday to come, then friday would come then i would get annoyed that i had to repeat the same damn thing in two days. i counted all the public holidays that would give me a time off, then i persevered and endured through the entire internship. when i came back, i could only recount the stories of lunchtime to people…. thank God i had a monthly log, or i wouldn’t have remembered what i did in that year.

      i pray that God does not allow me to land in an actual job where i will only persevere and endure… meaningless work robs you of your joy, so i want to feel like i’m doing something too.

      and as for the wifey thing, i got interested in cooking lately, but the way i cook is so scientific… always observing and making notes with every bite (i’m quite good, i want to say “ha” to my parents for telling me all these years that i wouldn’t be able to cook because i didn’t help a lot with the cooking, even though i made stew, de-scaled fish, boiled chicken and so on … youtube did not exist in their time… and that i seem to have a natural talent for seasoning food XD).

      I am also someone that believes that the only permanent role dictated to me as a woman by nature is the one only a woman’s body can do, therefore it is not my innate duty to cook, clean and whatnot, if i had to get married, i and the guy will both do the chores, and he will not be someone that says “he’s helping me do MY duty”, nope, it will be him doing HIS share of the chores, (seeing the laziness of my brothers and mine, i have come to the conclusion that men don’t do chores because they want to be lazy and are only pretending it “emasculates” them, if i was a guy, i may possibly be tempted to tell my wife that it is her role to cook, clean, take care of the kids, so that i don’t have to do anything in the house). i have more important unconventional ideas too, but luckily the world is enlightened these days and i’m neither a worshipper nor an idoliser of marriage so i can wait. (yes i believe only a person who sees marriage as a god will get desperate and/or drop their important criteria in pursuit of a spouse).

    • Tosin

      May 11, 2016 at 8:20 am


  4. Gem

    May 10, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    This article is probably speaking to me… And I am most likely trying to ignore it. This one Bae has been giving me cold shoulder for a while now, let me kuku park my heart and jejely stay one place. There was no “but I should have known” even my friends sef are shocked he’s doing one kind kind.. But let me listen to Madam Chiadi. Let me spare myself. *laughs in love* I need help please

  5. Bodunade

    May 10, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    True story. I read this comment and I couldn’t keep up. In my mind I was like ah Tosin has infected this one o, we have to read their comments multiple times to follow their train of thoughts, only to look up and see Tosin. Lol.

    Solution 1
    People in my village in ( Okitipupa LGA) don’t wear clothes, in fact, they won’t touch a bra with a long pole. Moving there won’t be an issue because a plot of land is still around 100k hahaha
    Solution 2(continuation)
    I’m sure there are plenty of jobs there. You can catch rabbits today, harvest cassava tomorrow, process palm oil the day after. It goes on and on. No automation, I don find werk for you

    • Tosin

      May 10, 2016 at 5:54 pm

      i like to automate, automate, by the way, when possible, using automatons, non-human ones, if possible 😀

    • Nnenna

      May 10, 2016 at 6:11 pm

      I served in o’pa… Just finished NYSC last month sef. Biko where are the said people because people in the okitipupa gan gan over like cloth oh… Your people are nice though albeit a bit stingy but nice.

  6. Bodunade

    May 10, 2016 at 7:50 pm

    @nnena, Erinje, 100 bucks bike from o’pa , the villagey parts . Why won’t we be stingy? Naija is hard plus no light in that zone for 3years. How did you manage sef? Please which clothes? Nice attempt at sarcasm!

  7. Mimi

    May 11, 2016 at 1:25 am

    this is advice i’m trying to implement into my life, take a step back and scrutinise everything before i walk into relationships (friendships, intimate ones etc) with anyone

  8. beabea bea

    May 11, 2016 at 10:16 am

    Love me some Tosin, Mimi, Bodunade & Nnenna teh corper. you all made my morning. I hardly laugh at BN comments in teh office but these really got me smiling shyly.

    I can imagine my oyinbo colleague wondering who is she flirt with this early morning.

    love you guys for making my heart really merry this morning.

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